According to a recent article published by The Baltimore Sun, a Maryland man who was arrested and charged earlier this year by federal law enforcement authorities has plead guilty to a number of drug charges related to his involvement in the illegal online black market known as the Silk Road. Authorities contend that the site has facilitated the sale of more than $1 billion in illegal drugs, and is suspected to have connected its users to others willing to provide illegal services, such as contract killings.
The defendant, age 32, who allegedly used the name "digitalink", pled guilty earlier this month to selling heroin and methylone between November 2011 and January 2012, using the site's encrypted servers and digital currency. The article claims that the defendant admitted to the Department of Homeland Security that the heroin he had sold was purchased from dealers in the Baltimore area, and that the methylone had been imported from China. The article states that according to the defendants plea agreement, he cooperated with DHS agents by providing them various emails, shipping records, and financial statements related to his illegal activities.
This defendant is just one of a number of individuals suspected of participating in illegal activities using the Silk Road. Last month, 29-year-old co-defendant, the alleged designer and operator of the Silk Road website, was indicted by a Maryland grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and attempted witness murder, among other offenses.
According to allegations in the indictment, the charges against the co-defendant stem from a number of interactions he had with an undercover agent beginning in April 2012. The agent told the co-defendant that he was a high-level drug smuggler seeking to sell drugs on the Silk Road, and that the two had several conversations over the course of several months.
In January of 2012, however, one of the co defendant's employees was arrested. The co-defendant became concerned that the employee might disclose information about the his illegal activity and asked the undercover agent to have the employee killed. The agent agreed and convinced the co-defendant that the employee had been executed. In March of 2012, the co-defendant allegedly wired $80,000 as payment for the killing.
Later in March, authorities say in documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that private messages reviewed by federal agents show a Silk Road vendor threatened to blackmail the co-defendant by exposing information about the site's users and transactions.
Authorities maintain that over 900,000 registered users bought and sold drugs on Silk Road using a form of digital currently known as Bitcoins. Following the shutdown of Silk Road, the FBI seized more than $3.6 million worth of Bitcoin, the largest seizure ever of the virtual currency.
The experienced criminal defense attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience defending individuals charged with drug crimes in both state and federal courts. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime in Maryland, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.